We don’t have much time really. In the final analysis, when are cycling days are over -and they will be over someday-how will we answer the question about how we performed. I don’t mean from our family and friends, long since numbed to our plight and stories. I mean the questions that will be rattling around in our heads like loose plastic water bottle cages on the backside of Knightridge after a hard winter. Were you all-in? Did you escape and get caught? Or did you not show up at all?
I drove to the course after a day at the office and picking up 4 bags of Bakehouse granola for the performers at tonight’s Wednesday Worlds. It was relatively cool and breezy as I took the bike off the rack on the backside of the course near the finish line and began to cycle toward the group, just a few miles away. I met up with a few on the western side of Knightridge doing the same; Tomasz Golas (DRT), Wes Harris (Speedway), James Calvetti (Bakehouse) and Shane Slaven (unattached). The group arrived and was impressive in number and depth. Something I have become accustomed to but sometimes take for granted. I joined the group and confirmed six laps and let them know that I had procured a granola prime and some for the finish. I planned for a bag for the women but only rising start Emily Palmer was in attendance, representing the women, her blonde pony tail bobbing on her shoulders in stark contrast to the men all around.
I took note of the riders, as one always does in this situation as I rolled from the back to the front and to the back again, reminding all of the laps and other small talk. In addition to my companions on the warmup, Tom Cox was there with another Riley rider. Chris Kroll and Tim Nixon (Upland), Karim Abdelkader (MOB), Kevin Depasse (Nuvo), RJ Stuart (Texas Roadhouse), Graham Dewart (Nuvo), Hans Ibold (Brooks), Austin Venhuizen, Luke Momper and Paul Smith and a few others from Motion, Jacob Miller (BKB), Chris Arvin (DRT). There were many there that I didn’t recall or haven’t gotten to know yet. Also Fred Rose, Brian Depasse, Aaron Prange, Jon Purvis, Cam Johns, James Freeman, Brendan Wise, Charlie McClary, Spencer Brauchla, Zach Osterman, all from Bakehouse.
The training ride was fast, for sure. I didn’t have my computer on board, but a teammate said afterwards that we averaged 26.5 mph. The interesting part about it was that the event was manageable tonight, despite the high speed, or rather, because of it. It may sound counterintuitive to the casual reader, but a fast pace, just fast enough to limit attacks is easier to sustain than constant accelerations. We did have some forays up the road though. Emily Palmer took the first flyer in the first lap and crested the hill in front of the group near the top corner. Karim was next to me and I remarked to him that that was Gary’s daughter! “Cool.” He said. Certainly a complement to this young talent. After the catch, Rose and Depasse had a go for a half lap, then Kroll and Nixon got in the action. At the midway prime, K. Depasse nipped Kroll at the line after a long leadout from Cox, fresh from a recent win at Winona. The monster effort split the group but we realigned before the turn. I got away for a moment with the Riley (sorry, I should know your name) rider on the second climb in the 4th lap. It had the makings of a well timed effort, especially when Kroll, then Ibold bridged. We had a few seconds on the bunch, but Kroll had enough of us amateurs and attacked the break over the top leaving us in ones and twos! We were eventually brought back into the fold ad in the final lap, Stuart jumped on the climb after a series of stymied attempts by some pretenders. He left us for dead and soloed to the line for a beautiful victory. It was a bit of a disorganized field sprint with a bit of brake tapping as well, but the race was up the road so it was just for bragging rights now. I believe the finish was Roadhouse, Nuvo’s Dewart and a Motion rider for third.
The beauty of this ride was not in its utter simplicity and rush of power and speed, which keeps us coming back each week, but also in its ability to bring every level of racer out for a go. The Wednesday Worlds is the stage that an unknown (or up and coming) rider can begin to make a name for themselves. It’s like the Rocky (the original, not the sequels) of the bike world. There is little risk in not trying. So if you come out for a Wednesday Worlds and no one knows your name, do something about it! Get to the front and make us pay attention. Attack when the time is completely wrong. Attempt a solo that’s doomed to fail. Launch an attack that’s bound to get caught. Because one day, it will be right, it won’t fail. You won’t get caught. And I’ll be the first to congratulate you.